Shipping forms an important element of Gibraltar's economy

By JOE HOLLIDAY, Deputy Chief Minister with responsibility for Shipping

Shipping forms an important element of Gibraltar?s economy. The other major sectors of our economy are financial services, tourism and telecommunications.

Changes and developments within the shipping sector are therefore of considerable importance to the Government, as they will impact on Gibraltar.

In the years that I have had responsibility for shipping, this sector has grown both in size and importance. The port of Gibraltar is doing exceptionally well. In part, this can be attributed to our strategic location. We are situated at the end of one of the projected Motorways of the Sea, that the EU is proposing. There are therefore a series of possibilities and opportunities that are available to Gibraltar in relation to the container market.

The major activities in the port of Gibraltar are bunkering, the provision of a wide range of services to shipping and, to a lesser degree, the receipt of cargo in containers.

Let me place the port of Gibraltar in context.

In the year 1996, when I came into office, Gibraltar welcomed 4,505 ship calls. These ships represented 92.9 million gross tonnage. Nine years later, in 2005, the number of ship calls has risen by 99% to 8,972 ship calls, and the gross tonnage has increased by 149% to 231.3 million gross tonnage. In this same period of time, the volume of bunkers supplied in the Port of Gibraltar increased by 137% from 1.7 million tonnes to 4.1 million tonnes. Another major source of activity in the port is tourism-related: calls by cruise ships. This sector has also seen a large increase in activity, with the number of cruise calls achieving an all-time high of 175 cruise calls in one year. Even more important is the number of cruise passengers that arrived at Gibraltar. Last year?s figure was again an all-time high, with almost 188,000 cruise passenger arrivals. The outlook for 2006 is even brighter, with over 205 cruise calls booked and an anticipated 225,000 passengers.

The ship repair sector in Gibraltar is also doing well. Cammell Laird are the operators of the ship repair yard, and they have a healthy order book. The company is refocusing its business, and looking to a greater degree than before to the yacht market and in particular the luxury end of the market. The Government supports the company?s vision and is content with its strategic plans.

ALGECIRAS, TANGIER

We are aware of developments that are planned in relation to container traffic in the region. The Port of Algeciras is a very significant player in this market. Tangier is developing a new port to compete in this market. Gibraltar explored the possibility of building a container transhipment port, and decided not to do so. The Government nevertheless attaches importance to there continuing to be a direct container link with the port of Gibraltar, and this is provided by OPDR Hamburg. The Government wishes to see this link continue, and prosper, and would welcome increased volumes being handled by OPDR on the Gibraltar route.

There are several dimensions to Gibraltar?s shipping policy. On the one hand, we are strongly committed to the highest standards of safety and environmental control. We believe in ?Safe Ships and Clean Seas?. We also believe that port operators in Gibraltar should offer quality services at cost effective prices that represent value for money. The port of Gibraltar enjoys an enviable reputation, and the Government is determined to ensure that this should continue to be the case. This reputation is the result of quality operators conducting their business in Gibraltar.

200th ANNIVERSARY

The Gibraltar Port Authority is this year celebrating its 200th anniversary. It is an important milestone. Indeed, in this anniversary year, the Port is being reorganised through the coming into force of the Gibraltar Port Authority Ordinance. This will set up a new board of management for the Port Authority. A further major legislative change will be the implementation of the licensing regime for port operators, that will ensure that only registered operators are able to carry out work within the port of Gibraltar. These changes to our legislation will help to ensure that the port of Gibraltar continues to operate to the highest industry standards. In parallel with this, the Port Authority is recruiting new personnel and introducing further training.

Over the last few years the Government has invested significant sums in improvements for the Port. These have included works on the piers, the purchase of new launches for the Port Authority and the installation of new electronic equipment to track vessel movements. The port has also invested in equipment for countering oil pollution problems. The Government?s programme of investments will continue for the future.

OPDR Hamburg and Mateos and Sons have been an important element of the last 114 years of the history of the Port of Gibraltar. I look forward to this relationship continuing and growing, for the mutual benefit of the company and for the port of Gibraltar.





















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